Lagrange, Joseph Louis, Comte
- Clive Greated
(b Turin, Jan 25, 1736; d Paris, April 10, 1813). French mathematician and physicist. He was largely self-trained and was encouraged by Euler and d'Alembert, whose protégé he became. He held positions in Berlin (from 1766) and Paris (from 1787). He is remembered as an acoustician for his work in 1759 on the transverse vibrations of the taut, massless cord loaded by n weights, equally spaced. He is credited with being the first to represent the string in this way and to calculate its normal mode patterns and frequencies, and for having established Euler's solution for the continuous monochord as being the result of taking the limit as n tends to infinity. In fact the discrete model was a very old one, and Lagrange's work on it is a straightforward extension of Euler's; further, as d'Alembert pointed out, Lagrange's passage to the limit is fallacious. In ...